A photo walk across Stoke Fields to Winton's Wood, Stoke-on-Trent
- the parish of St. Simon and St. Jude

Railways and Chartists


next: St. Jude's church and town
previous: canals


The year is 1845 the Old Man traveller is long dead but his now ageing grandson still treads the same old paths between Hanley and Stoke. The fields are much the same, but the smoke from Mr Ridgway's Cauldon Place pottery on the canalside hangs in the air. He watched a coal-laden canal boat heading for the hills. A short canal extension had been built to Leek, so that the town could be supplied with coal. He had never been to Leek, but he had heard the journey was difficult especially in winter. As he walked through the Glebe land at Winton's Wood, he reflected that if the Rector of Stoke created any more new parishes, there would be nothing left.

The Cauldon Place works - founded c.1802 by Job Ridgway

This picture from "A descriptive account of The Potteries (illustrated)"
a 1893 advertising and trade journal.

It had all begun in 1807 when what was proudly hailed as one of the largest parishes in the country, lost Burslem, Newcastle-under-Lyme and some other out-lying areas. Since then as the population grew, new parishes had been created at Hartshill, Penkhull and nearer to home, St Mark's at Shelton back up the hill. He had heard that Etruria was next. These were just the nearer ones, for there were others at Fenton and Longton. Robert Peel had much to answer for with his New Churches Acts, but there again he supposed that all these immigrants from the countryside needed spiritual guidance as well as work and houses.

St Mark's at Shelton

Great Reform Act:
The  Potteries  townships  were  now  amalgamated  into the  new Parliamentary Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent as a result of the Great Reform Act of 1832, with a new Town Hall opposite the Church, a  Member of Parliament (old Josiah's son), and a population of sixty five thousand. Speaking of the Church, he reflected that Stoke Parish had not fared too badly, as the new St Peter's Church had at last been finished in 1826. It had been sad to see the old Church pulled down, but a piece of the oldest part had been saved and stood in the new churchyard near  Josiah Wedgwood's vault; he had died in1795. The Fowlea Brook had been culverted and covered over to allow Glebe Street to be laid out - and very smart it was looking. He supposed it was all inevitable - in the name of progress!

St. Peter's in about 1893

Ruins of earlier church (Arches) in the
grounds of Parish Church of St. Peter Ad Vincula
The railed area in front of the arches is
 the tomb of Josiah Wedgwood I

These houses were built in 1838 are situated on the north side of Brook Street (off Glebe Street) which crosses the line of the culverted Fowlea Brook - hence the name Brook Street.


The railway & Winton Square:
But the one thing he never failed to do during his journey, was to stop at the new railway line to see the steam locomotives and carriages. As he stood fascinated, behind the gated crossing, he pondered that he had seen the pottery manufactories changed  beyond recognition by steam power, and wondered how the canals could compete with steam locomotives which could travel at twenty miles an hour.
He looked along the new road towards the new railway station, with the new hotel across  the square. Winton Square they were going to call it, and the hotel was going to be the North Stafford -good thing not everything is "new", he  thought.  At  the other end of  Station Road, where the railway crossed  Rykeneld Street by means of a wide iron  bridge, the  road to Stoke no longer went up the hill towards Hartshill, but rather along  a  new  straight   road  on the level, across King's Meadow -  more  Glebe  land - which  was  now  called Liverpool Road; the old road sensibly enough would be called Shelton Old Road.

Walking back towards Hanley, he took the new Turnpike across Winton's Field. Leek Road they called it, straight as an arrow to Bucknall and  beyond. He had watched it being built, and had seen the latest construction methods brought  about  by  the  ideas of  Metcalf, Macadam  and Telford.  The  most  significant  innovation  was  not the layers of crushed stone that made up the foundation, but the  final water-bound  topping of small gravel to fill the voids and provide a smooth  surface for horses and carts.  People called it a macadam  road,  a  fitting  tribute   to  the  man who had persuaded the authorities to adopt it. However sett-paving or cobbling was still the preferred method of road surfacing for town streets.

He  paused for thought and  looked across to Winton's Wood behind the new hotel and recalled the scenes three years ago, when a large body of Chartists had met there, before marching in  procession to Longton and on to the Mear (Meir), to meet the Irish radical Feargus O'Connor who was on his way back to Manchester after addressing Chartist meetings in Nottingham and Derby.
The  Hanley  and  Shelton  Political  Union  had  been formed  in  1838, and  he  recalled a meeting in  Hanley the  same  year. They  were  heady  days,  with  popular  support  for  improved  social  conditions and  electoral change which the Reform Act had failed to deliver. Later the same year   Dragoons and  Infantry  had confronted Chartist rioters in   Burslem, when  shots were fired with fatal  results and the riot was dispersed. In the aftermath, 54 men were sentenced to transportation - 11 for life. The Chartist movement had largely declined, and changes were on the way.

on Chartism

Housing development:
Already a row of houses was under construction near the railway, to be called Winton Terrace and there was also the start of building along the new Leek Road. He looked across to the east, beyond the Trent, and saw the new Manor  House at Little Fenton, built by Philip Broade JP. The fields to the north, towards Botslow would pass into history as "Squire Broade's",  where  succeeding  generations  would  take Sunday afternoon walks at least until the latter part of the 20th Century. 
As  he  trudged  homewards  in  the dusk,  he  wondered  when the new gas street lighting would reach Leek Road. The 1826 Gas Works at Lower Bedford Street in Shelton had been a remarkable success with street lighting in Hanley and Stoke. There seemed to be no limit to these new ideas and he wondered where it would all end. At the present rate, the Glebe land of Stoke Parish would be swallowed up by new enterprises. He hoped the Rector would keep enough to live on, and not be obliged to seek Queen Anne's Bounty as an "Impoverished Clergyman".

next: St. Jude's church and town
previous: canals

John Alcock - (c) Copyright 2006